State Supreme Court Examines Placing Minnesota Court Records Online

Typically if you wanted to access official Minnesota court records, you’d have to go to the courthouse, and possibly pay for printing. However, it appears that could all change relatively soon.

According to a report from James Eli Shiffer of the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Supreme Court appears to be headed towards a decision that will push more court records online – something that includes those pertaining to criminal complaints and lawsuits. And while the move seems like the obvious way to go, it could make it more complicated for ex-offenders to land jobs and housing.

Most notably opposing the plan is the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime and Justice – who recently argued against the move in front of the court after a committee voted 22 to 1 in its favor.

In the Star Tribune’s report, Joshua Esmay, director of public policy and advocacy at the Council on Crime and Justice, noted that his nonprofit’s “expungement seminar” draws in a crowd of 40 attendees on a monthly basis – most of whom have only committed minor offenses, yet face complications on job and housing applications.

But while the battle to stop such records from being moved online is likely a losing one, many state legislators are in fact on board with revamping the criminal records process in other ways.

Minnesota & the Expungement Process

On January 1st, a new expungement plan went into effect that allows ex-offenders to apply to clear their criminal records should they have no other offenses within a two-year time period and complete a diversion program. Additionally, the state-passed law also orders online background providers to clear their system of those records.

The state also previously made news nationwide for its “Ban the Box” initiative, a law that requires companies to wait until after interviews before asking applicants about their criminal backgrounds.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Minnesota is due to make a decision on the latest online records issue soon.